Even before Obama's victory, the Clinton campaign was already spinning the results, discounting the notion of an Obama victory, reports ABC News' David Wright.
"Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in 84 and '88," former President Bill Clinton told reporters outside a polling station in Columbia Saturday. "Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here."
Wright reports Clinton rejected any suggestion he or his wife were guilty of race-baiting in South Carolina.
"Man, you've never been in many campaigns if you think this was ugly," Bill Clinton said. "This was a cakewalk."
But in a campaign dominated by talk of race, South Carolinians went into the polls with the economy on their minds; just over half called it the most important issue in their vote. South Carolina has the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the nation, and has lost more than 90,000 manufacturing jobs over the last decade.
Early on, the Obama campaign sought out African-Americans, employing a large staff in the state and organizing in churches, beauty parlors and barber shops. The Clinton campaign, too, fought hard for black women voters, who tend to turn out reliably at the polls.
But Obama complained the media's focus on race has been excessive.
"The press has been very focused, almost maniacally, on the issue of race here in South Carolina," Obama told ABC News' Kate Snow on Saturday's "Good Morning America Weekend" edition. "But as we move forward after this contest, I'm very confident that we are going to continue to build the kind of coalitions that we've been seeing all across the country."
The junior senator from Illinois dismissed the notion he has been marginalized, in the words of Associated Press writer Ron Fournier, as "the black candidate, by the Clinton machine."
"I think it'd be hard to argue that I have been marginalized, when I won Iowa, which was 94 percent white. We were almost tied in New Hampshire, a state that has an all-white population. And in Nevada, I was able to win, actually, the biggest votes, uh, margins, in those northern areas that are predominantly white, rural, conservative areas," Obama said.
Former President Clinton made headlines this week when he chastized CNN reporter Jessica Yellin for challenging him about comments he made about race and gender.
Campaigning Saturday morning in Columbia with her daughter, Chelsea, Hillary Clinton popped into a Shoney's restaurant and urged people to vote.
Sitting down beside an 8-year-old boy named Messiah, who was playing a video game, Clinton leaned in and said, "So this guy, what's he doing?" reports ABC News' Eloise Harper.
Looking at the game, he said, "Beatin' up the evil people." Clinton paused and said, "Can I have him come with me?"
Nearby, Bill Clinton ate grits and eggs with his wife's supporters at Bert's Grill and Diner, and visited a voting station down the road, reports ABC News' Sarah Amos.
Behind the scenes, Clinton's campaign sent out a memo to reporters that tried to minimize the impact of the South Carolina contest.
"Regardless of today's outcome, the race quickly shifts to Florida, where hundreds of thousands of Democrats turn out to vote Tuesday," wrote Clinton Communications Director Howard Wolfson.